obliterate

verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈbli-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō- \
obliterated; obliterating

Definition of obliterate

transitive verb

1a : to remove utterly from recognition or memory … a successful love crowned all other successes and obliterated all other failures.— J. W. Krutch
b : to remove from existence : destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of The tide eventually obliterated all evidence of our sandcastles.
c medical : to cause (something, such as a bodily part, a scar, or a duct conveying body fluid) to disappear or collapse : remove sense 4 a blood vessel obliterated by inflammation
2 : to make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or wearing away A dimness like a fog envelops consciousness / As mist obliterates a crag.— Emily Dickinson
3 : cancel sense 2 obliterate a postage stamp

Other Words from obliterate

obliteration \ ə-​ˌbli-​tə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō-​ \ noun
obliterator \ ə-​ˈbli-​tə-​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce obliterate (audio) , ō-​ \ noun

Did you know?

Far from being removed from existence, obliterate is thriving in our language today with various senses that it has acquired over the years. True to its Latin source, oblitteratus—from the prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," and littera, meaning "letter"—it began in the mid-16th century as a word for removing something from memory. Soon after, English speakers began to use it for the specific act of blotting out or obscuring anything written, and eventually its meaning was generalized to removing anything from existence. In the meantime, physicians began using obliterate for the surgical act of filling or closing up a vessel, cavity, or passage with tissue. Its final stamp on the English lexicon was delivered in the mid-19th century: "to cancel a postage or revenue stamp."

Examples of obliterate in a Sentence

in a stroke, the March snowstorm obliterated our hopes for an early spring
Recent Examples on the Web But in modern times, thanks to humanity’s meddling with the climate and the landscape, these fires have ballooned into unnatural beasts that instead obliterate ecosystems. Wired, 21 July 2022 But Henry is well known for having tried to obliterate all traces of his ex-wives. New York Times, 7 July 2022 Trump wanted to destroy governmental institutions; Nixon wanted to employ them to his ends but not to obliterate them. David M. Shribman, BostonGlobe.com, 11 June 2022 The types of immunity more relevant to the current pandemic era blunt the frequency and severity of future waves, rather than obliterate them. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 4 May 2022 These sentries are helping the heroes save lives rather than looking to obliterate humans. Chris Smith, BGR, 15 Apr. 2022 The first team to obliterate the spell will win the series. New York Times, 27 May 2022 Summer travel plans are well into the developmental stage and will soon usher tourists in droves toward popular Western hot spots that continue to obliterate previous attendance records. J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 26 May 2022 Based in Needham, Tripadvisor’s office was designed to obliterate any negative feelings about your commute with plenty of cold brew coffee on tap, pool tables, outdoor decks, and a fitness center with live instructors. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, 16 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obliterate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of obliterate

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for obliterate

borrowed from Latin oblīterātus, oblitterātus, past participle of oblīterāre, oblitterāre "to cause to be forgotten or fall into disuse, make disappear," from ob- "against, facing" + -līterāre, litterāre, verbal derivative of lītera, littera letter entry 1 — more at ob-

Note: The original meaning of oblīterāre was apparently "to wipe out letters, words, etc.," but this sense is not clearly attested in classical Latin. Attested senses appear to have been influenced by oblītus, past participle of oblīvīscī "to forget, put out of mind" (cf. oblivion).

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Time Traveler for obliterate

Time Traveler

The first known use of obliterate was in 1548

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Dictionary Entries Near obliterate

obliterable

obliterate

obliteratingly

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Statistics for obliterate

Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obliterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obliterate. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for obliterate

obliterate

verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈbli-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \
obliterated; obliterating

Kids Definition of obliterate

: to remove, destroy, or hide completely

obliterate

transitive verb
oblit·​er·​ate | \ ə-ˈblit-ə-ˌrāt, ō- How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \
obliterated; obliterating

Medical Definition of obliterate

: to cause to disappear (as a bodily part or a scar) or collapse (as a duct conveying body fluid) a blood vessel obliterated by inflammation

Other Words from obliterate

obliteration \ -​ˌblit-​ə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce obliterate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on obliterate

Nglish: Translation of obliterate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obliterate for Arabic Speakers

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